Chapter 1 - Part 2
Click here to read Chapter 1 - Part 1
Mrs. Anderson called her out of school the next day and stayed home from her job at the St. Andrew Public Library. She made Paivi’s favorite chocolate chip cookies and put on her favorite movie. Paivi pushed them away, uninterested.
Every thing in the house reminded her of Michaela and Mrs. Brown. Commercials showing a mother and daughter running together in the park and the plot of her mother’s soap opera wouldn’t allow her to block the thoughts from her mind. She spent most of the day curled up next to her mother on the couch as her mother stroked her long blond hair and held her close.
In the afternoon she asked her mom calmly, her green eyes shining with hope, “Mom, are you sure there anything we can do? Can’t we call someone?”
“Honey, I promise you, if there was any way to change what you saw, I would do it for you and for Mrs. Brown. But sometimes there are things we can’t change. When you’re a little older, you’ll understand this better.” She attempted a bitter half-smile, which was meant more for herself than for Paivi. Dark circles floated under her sky blue eyes. “Not that it makes it any easier. Just know that you are special and we love you very much.”
She kissed Paivi on the head.
And so they waited. Paivi’s stomach churned as she thought about having to face Michaela. She was able to dodge her phone call after school but she knew there would be no escaping her the next day.
The phone call came that evening, from Mr. Anderson himself. Mrs. Anderson answered, her voice muted. She turned back to Paivi, who sat anxiously at the kitchen table.
“That was your Daddy. Mrs. Brown had an accident today. She was taken to St. Andrew Medical. She is still alive, but very badly injured,” Mrs. Anderson paused, wiping away a tear as it trickled down her cheek, “they’re not sure if she’ll make it.”
This time Paivi did not cry. Mrs. Brown was alive, and for right now that was enough for her.
The next few weeks went by in a blur. Mrs. Brown wasn’t getting any better. She had been badly burned in the explosion and was forced to endure numerous surgeries. Paivi was unable to avoid Michaela for long, as the Andersons had kindly offered to take care of Michaela and her little sister Marissa while Mr. Brown tended to his ailing wife. At first, things were awkward. Paivi worried that Michaela would somehow figure out the truth—that she had known about the accident. She felt like it was written in red letters across her forehead.
Paivi tried to put it out of her head and did her best to keep Michaela happy. She enjoyed having her best friend around all the time. Michaela and Marissa slept over often, turning boring weeknights into a fun sleepover. They would giggle and talk late into the night, pretending to be asleep when Mr. and Mrs. Anderson checked in.
On a beautiful spring day, Mrs. Brown passed away. Guilt oozed out of every pore as Paivi trudged across the graveyard towards the waiting crowd dressed in black. She clasped her mom’s hand, hoping that it would be over quickly. She couldn’t bear looking at the life, now over, sitting on the dais in front of them. Michaela had taken it better than Paivi, something that she struggled to comprehend. She wondered how her friend could be so strong.
Catch the final part of Chapter 1 of INTO THE SHADOWS next Wednesday, July 7th! Have a great 4th of July!